Enter the mind of a serial killer

The serial killers in Gurgaon just picked targets at random and murdered them. Experts say this fits the profile of a psychopath, reports Anuradha Mukherjee.

india Updated: Nov 16, 2006 02:49 IST

One of the men killed by a gang blamed for the deaths of 28 people in Gurgaon since January 2006 had only Rs 2 on him.

The serial killers, nine men driving in a taxi who would offer lift to a person, strangle him in the vehicle, take his valuables and dump his body in a drain or manhole, did not look for particularly prosperous victims.

They just picked targets at random and murdered them. Experts say this fits the profile of a psychopath.

A psychopath's mind

"Mostly, it is a coolly planned mission which gives the psychopath a sense of immense peace and calm. It has been seen the psychopath’s blood pressure falls after a killing as opposed to a normal man," says psychologist Rajat Mitra, who has worked extensively with offenders lodged at the Central Prison, Tihar.

He is the guy next door who neighbours would describe as a decent sort. But he has a strong violent streak. A psychopath likes to keep a low profile. And this killer usually poses a strong challenge to law-enforcing authorities as he rarely has a criminal profile.

Psychiatrists say psychopaths are the perfect example of aggression turned outwards. "Many of them could be suffering from Under-Socialised Aggression Conduct Disorder (UACD). This is the most dangerous of conduct disorders as there is no sense of remorse," says Rajesh Sagar, a psychiatrist at AIIMS.

The signature of a serial killer

The victim may be accosted ostensibly for robbery or other reason, but he is eventually killed. "After a killing, the psychopath gets a high. The victim’s helplessness excites him. They may claim it is for protecting their identity, but it is usually an excuse," says Mitra.

Former Delhi Police Commissioner Ajai Raj Sharma recounted incidents on highways of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab, where truckers were killed by highway robbers who befriended them. "Sometimes the truck would be empty, but the victims would still be killed," says Sharma.

A case like the Gurgaon maxi cab killings can be seen as a classic example of psychopaths banding together to commit crimes. "All the gang members may not be psychopaths, but almost everybody has blood on his hands. Gang members have different roles to play," says Sharma.

The composition of the gang

The leader: He is the most violent and pathological in the group and dominates by violence. He is also someone with leadership quality and an ability to influence and gather people. "The leader does not allow anyone to stay clean. He is also the one who draws maximum pleasure from the killings," says Mitra.

The hatchet man: He is often the brain of the group, but also the most ordered around because of his personality. He plans and executes the crime and is often sent on reconnaissance because of his deceptive personality. He may also have some ambivalent feelings towards the crime. "He may not be ideologically convinced about killing. Also, he may feel injustice at being made to do all the dirty work. He feels some emotion the others do not. This can be used to crack the gang," says Mitra.

The reluctant person: He is the one trapped unwillingly into the gang's activities. He feels guilty and wants to help when a victim cries. It is often the reluctant gang member who often turns out to be its undoing by turning a police informer. "It is difficult to nail the killer as often the victim is from a far-flung area. But if you get one clue or informer, then a whole lot of cases get cracked one by one," says Sharma.

Email: anuradha.mukherjee@hindustantimes.com

First Published: Nov 16, 2006 02:49 IST